Do You Need a Box Spring for Your Mattress?

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Are you looking to upgrade your bed or make a change, but are unsure which components are vital and which you can ignore? A box spring may be one of those items you’re debating on, and there are a few factors you need to determine if this product is necessary or not.

We've put together a guide with everything you need to know about box springs to help you figure out what you need for your bed. Read on to learn how this product could enhance your sleep space.

What is a Box Spring?

A box spring is a supportive unit that lifts your mattress and serves as part of the foundation. These are usually the same size as the mattress and are built with a wooden frame, containing springs in the middle and a cloth cover. Recently, many manufacturers have stopped putting actual springs within their products.

Some still have springs inside that help absorb your body weight, which should keep your bed sturdy and supportive over time.

Do You Really Need a Box Spring?

Regardless of whether or not you use a box spring, you will need to place your mattress somewhere. If you choose not to use a box spring, what are you going to put your bed on?

Let’s go through a few different options:

  • You can put your bed on the floor.
  • You can use a platform bed.
  • You can purchase an adjustable base

While putting your bed on the floor may be more economical, it might be not as aesthetically pleasing and could be difficult to get in and out of if you’re older. Some people enjoy the extra height that a box spring can provide, particularly when paired with a metal frame. A platform bed is also an option. Platform beds contain a raised frame with a sturdy base, such as slatted, solid, or metal. If you have the money to spend, you may want to look into an adjustable bed. An adjustable base can be remotely controlled to flex, bend, and lift your mattress.

If you plan to use a collapsable metal frame with your mattress, then you will need to utilize a box spring to provide structure and support through the middle.

Illustration of a Box Spring Bed

When Don’t You Need a Box Spring?

Certain foundations don’t typically need a box spring, such as a reinforced metal frame, platform bed (both solid and slatted), and an adjustable base. Each of these foundations provides a structure that evenly distributes the sleeper’s weight, eliminating the need for a box spring.

Read More: Box Springs vs. Slats

Which Types of Mattresses Need a Box Spring?

Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses are sold by many different manufacturers and are touted as being a great option for almost every sleeper. These mattress types typically don’t require a box spring.

Hybrid

A hybrid mattress contains a mix of foam and coils. Hybrid mattresses do not have to be paired with a box spring and are usually best suited with more solid foundations like slatted bases.

Latex

Latex beds are generally better on top of more solid foundations like slatted bases. The reason for this is that latex mattresses tend to carry more weight, which could damage the box spring and affect its performance.

Innerspring

A box spring can provide extra support for a traditional innerspring mattress. Extra support is useful if you carry more weight or sleep on your back or stomach.

Something Else to Consider: Product Warranty, Returns, and Shipping

Illustration of a Man Flipping His Mattress

Some companies require that you use a box spring if you would like for your warranty to remain valid. If you choose to go without and set your bed on an uneven surface that does not provide adequate support, it’s likely that wear and tear on the mattress is going to occur faster than it would if your bed were on a box spring.

This is understandable. Mattresses advertise certain benefits that are expected to last for many years. The longevity of a bed’s softness, supportiveness, and any other advertised benefits are all dependent on the bed being used in the best of environments.

Though the floors in your home might provide adequate support, mattress companies would rather not take that risk and end up losing money on seemingly faulty products. Plus, placing your mattress on the floor would prevent the air from passing through, potentially helping bacteria and mold develop between the layers.

Most mattress brands offer a respectable trial period averaging around 100 nights, though some have year-long trial deals. A trial period allows you the opportunity to test out the mattress at home and return it if it’s not to your liking. This is also a chance to see how compatible your mattress is with a box spring or another foundation. In some cases, you may find that you don’t need a box spring at all, saving yourself an additional product investment.

Online mattress shipping is made easy with the bed-in-a-box model. Most companies will compress and roll up the mattress into a box. When it arrives at your home, you’ll then unpack it and let the bed expand to its full size. If you already plan to use a box spring, you can place the new mattress directly on top of the piece as you wait for it to air out and expand.

Get More Info: How Long Do Mattresses Last?

Benefits of Using a Box Spring

We’ve addressed whether or not a box spring is an essential piece for your mattress. Now, it’s a good idea to discuss just how you can benefit from using it, aside from the fact that it may help keep your warranty and the longevity of your mattress.

They Elevate Your Bed

The first benefit is that it raises your bed. A bed elevated high off the ground is pleasing to the eye. Additionally, having a high bed helps prevent small pets from jumping up as well as preventing small insects from making their way up your bed and into the covers with you.

They Absorb Shock

When your mattress is laying on the ground, there’s nothing to help it absorb shock. If you have kids jumping on the bed or you toss and turn while sleeping, your mattress will succumb to repeated use over time much faster without a box spring than if you were to use one.

Disadvantages of a Box Spring

Although a box spring brings many benefits, you may also come across several disadvantages. A box spring may not be for everyone, so you should consider all the pros and cons before deciding whether it’s the right choice.

They Lose Support

A box spring bed can easily lose its support over time, in which case you’ll have to rotate it. How quickly this happens depends on how you use the bed. For example, are kids jumping on it? Are you tossing and turning? If so, you should rotate the bed before it sags.

No Room for Underbed Storage

A box spring bed contains the box spring, frame, mattress, rails, footboard, and headboard, all of which take up more space. In addition, the construction leaves little room underneath the bed, which can be a problem for people who need that space for storage.

Box Spring Alternatives

A box spring may not be for everyone. Luckily, there are alternatives available if you feel a box spring bed won’t work for you.

Foundation

A mattress foundation has a flat and sturdy wooden board on the top, which sets it apart from a box spring. This product may also have a slatted system instead of a solid wooden board. Foundations are usually made of wood or a combination of wood and metal to deliver maximum strength and support.

Illustration of a Heater in a Basement Bedroom

Bunkie Board

A bunkie board is initially intended for a bunk bed. This item is a thin board that supports the mattress without taking up as much space as a box spring. Although thin, the bunkie board provides more uniform support than slat systems, helping prevent sagging and soft spots.

Kids Playing on a Bunk Bed Illustration

Mattress on the floor

Placing your mattress on the floor can look modern and chic. The floor is flat and sturdy, giving your mattress enough support. Plus, kids won’t hurt as badly if they fall when jumping on the bed. However, the biggest drawback is that most of your sheets and bedding will be on the floor, easily accessible to dirt, dust, and bugs. Plus, the reduced airflow could increase the risk of bacteria buildup.

Illustration of a Couple on an Air Mattress

Adjustable Base

An adjustable base delivers maximum comfort when watching TV, reading, or working in bed. This type of base helps you find the best posture, which is why it’s often used in hospitals. An adjustable base is a great option for those who spend a lot of time in bed as it helps blood circulation by keeping your legs and head elevated.

Learn More: Best Adjustable Beds

Illustration of a Couple Resting on a Split Adjustable Bed

Platform Bed

A platform bed is another excellent box spring alternative if you want something less bulky. The platform keeps your mattress off the ground, but it only adds a little height. As a result, it doesn’t look bulky and allows enough airflow to prevent bacteria and mold from developing.

Read More: Best Mattress for Platform Bed

Illustration of a Futon Bed

Conclusion

The advantage for consumers is that they have options for where they can place a mattress. In some cases, it’s about preference and what’s most compatible with any current frames or foundations you may have. If your warranty doesn’t mention that you must use a box spring specifically, you can do what you wish.

For those interested in reaping the benefits of a box spring, there are a few things to consider. Do you want a product that contains springs, or are you interested in what looks best? Whatever the case may be, the top priority is to find a comfortable and long-lasting sleep solution.

Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.

Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.

Sleep Advisor